Editors note: Here are candidate Paige Turoski’s replies to our request for brief, specific answers to seven focused questions. Turoski’s answers are in bold type below each question.
- Would you vote to increase the Great Falls Park District 1 assessment on local homeowners and businesses to cover financing costs if the City goes over budget on construction of the new Aim High indoor aquatics facility, if additional funding is necessary for the ongoing operations of the facility, or if the City Park & Rec Department requires additional resources to fund its regular programs and operations?
Should the city require additional funding for the Aim High Big Sky Aquatics Center, I would encourage the city to explore every source of funding possible before even considering an increase in the Great Falls Park District 1 assessment. Should there be no other option but to acquire the funding from an increase in the Great Falls Park District 1 assessment on homeowners and businesses; then I would not vote to increase the assessment and continue to advocate for other sources of funding. Unfortunately, the city was only able to match the grant for the center by bonding to use a portion of the Park District 1 assessment.1 In accordance with MCA 7-5-131.2(d), a locally elected officials’ powers of initiation do not extend to “the levy of special assessments pledged for the payment of principal and interest on bonds”.2 This means that as commissioner I could not make the assessment increase a ballot measure to let the residents and businesses of Park District 1 decide whether or not to provide the funding for the AHBS Aquatics Center, otherwise I would initiate the process and bring it to voters. Owning a home and a business is expensive enough. The city should try not to increase those costs.
- Should the City’s official policy regarding the Big Sky National Heritage Area and its agenda be to support, oppose, or remain neutral? The City’s current policy is to support.
The city’s official position on the Big Sky Country NHA should be representative of what a majority of our residents want. I have not spoken with everyone but of those who have actually heard of it, not many seem to support it. As a resident I am opposed to the designation, as a potential commissioner I would support a city-wide survey to gauge resident’s support. If a majority are either opposed or unaware, then the city has no place supporting such a designation without the informed consent of its residents and I would move that the city oppose the BSCNHA designation.
- Would you vote to support using City zoning regulations to prevent recreational marijuana shops from operating in Great Falls neighborhoods and business districts?
I would vote to support using zoning regulations to prevent recreational marijuana shops from operating in Great Falls neighborhoods. Much like liquor stores, tobacco shops, and casinos, they should not be around schools, churches, or homes where people are raising their children. As someone who loves freedom and values personal liberty, I fully support the individual’s right to use whatever they wish. I have also studied, and can appreciate the many medicinal purposes that cannabis has3,4, as well as how safe it is compared to other drugs, like morphine.5,6 There are many who find it easier and less embarrassing to self-treat rather than be looked down on for seeking an alternative to narcotics. As well as veterans who are afraid of losing benefits for seeking the same thing.7 I support the will of the voters and am willing to give this industry a chance. Should it prove troublesome for our city, I would have no problem making the changes necessary for the well-being of our residents.
- Would you vote to send a local public safety levy to Great Falls voters in order to pay for additional law enforcement and local criminal justice system resources?
Absolutely. I am in full support in involving voters in as many ways possible when it comes to the decisions that affect the city they call home. Especially when that decision will have a direct financial impact on residents.
- Which is a greater priority for Great Falls – low income housing or workforce housing?
Workforce housing is a greater priority for Great Falls. An issue my husband and I faced when trying to rent a two-bedroom to welcome our oldest, and again when buying a home to grow our family, was a lack of options in the “middle”, which is where our budget was. One of the biggest issues facing Great Falls is our stale economy. The type of housing we have available will affect what types of businesses we both have and continue to get. An abundance of affordable housing will attract lower paying jobs, and vice versa, an abundance on the other end of the spectrum has the potential to turn us into another Bozeman. Neither of which lead to sustainable economic and population growth.
- Would you vote to allow development in proximity to the currently unused runway at MAFB?
I don’t see why not. I am not incredibly familiar with the area or any proposed developments. However, I have heard that it is expensive to develop on the east side of town due to the cost of hooking up to city water/sewer services, as well as the ground itself being somewhat difficult to build on. Once again, I’m no expert, but as long as the city is ensuring the cost of development does not outweigh the benefit of the potential constructions then I don’t see a problem with considering developing the area.
- Do you support or oppose the proposed ordinance to prohibit long-term parking/storage of RVs, boats, and trailers on public streets in residential neighborhoods?
This is a difficult one for me to answer because I have personally dealt with neighbors who abuse the allowed long-term parking of these vehicles and create not only a nuisance in the neighborhood because of the dilapidated state of the vehicles but a hazard to people who live and commute on our street. We have also dealt with our neighbors allowing people to inhabit these vehicles for extended periods of time. At the same time, I understand and appreciate the fact that a majority of people potentially affected by the ordinance, as proposed, do not behave in this manner and genuinely try to be considerate of those around them. The commission’s move to table the ordinance until there was an opportunity for in-person public comment was the best decision they could have made. This ordinance will affect many, and no decision should be made until every single resident who wants to make a public comment has had the opportunity to have their voice heard. It should remain tabled until in-person commission meetings return.